FOR theater veterans Jaime del Mundo and Dennis Marasigan, theatre can be everything and more. Whether in the eyes of a performer, audience member, or the creative team behind the production, theatre opens up a world of possibilities only the human mind is capable of making.
After years in theater, he values collaboration with trusted individuals, allowing them to excel in their roles. Marasigan expressed this sentiment during an interview with writer Sophia Eugenio, emphasizing the inherent uncertainty in theater’s collaborative nature. They both worked together in the CCP Out-Of-The-Box Series: Figaro! Figaro!!
Marasigan perceived Figaro! Figaro!! as an opportunity for Filipino talents to perform in an opera, even if the production was just an abridged version of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, staged back-to-back in one night.
“It’s simply because there are not enough opportunities for them to practice. Many of our better classical singers have to go abroad to perform in the operas because we don’t get them as often as we actually should,” lamented Marasigan.
Director Del Mundo explored different singing techniques to introduce possibilities to the cast, which brought apprehensions at first before it eventually led to excitement, willingness, and determination among the young singers.
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Speaking of theater, there is one place in Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater) that I always visit whenever I’m watching a show there. It’s the tech area.
I know I’m not supposed to go there, especially when a show is ongoing. But I would just take a peek, say hello to the crew (shoutout to sir Danny who would always wave at me whenever I’m at TIG), and take a couple of pictures before going back to the lobby.
Most often, audiences perceive the hard work that the actors, musicians, and rest of the cast – the so-called front liners of any production – put into a successful performance. But little do they know that the backliners – the backstage and production crew – spent the same if not more amount of time and energy on the production.
As the cast receives great adulation, the backstage crew often goes unnoticed. The costume designer who worked hard on the fittings and alterations, the technical staff who made sure that the lighting and sound system worked smoothly behind the scenes, the production people who made the artistic vision come alive with their hammers, paint brushes, and what have you.
While it may be a thankless job, there are some who take great pride in their backstage work. Being a backstage crew has its share of ups and downs. Sometimes, several productions are scheduled simultaneously, with everything happening all at once. When these happen, the workload could become overwhelming for the crew.
“There was a time when work piled up. We didn’t know what we should do first. My mind went blank, and I just cried. But after that, I return to work as if nothing happened,” shared Annie Ignacio in an interview with Lynnzie Nadong, Yna Bagadiong, and Kyla Balandra, our interns.
Amado Bonifacio III agreed, saying: “Even if we don’t want to, the nature of the work forces us to be workaholics. Things could get stressful and tiring, but we love what we are doing. That’s why we are still here.”
Both Ignacio and Bonifacio learned the trade from Francisco M. Galvero Jr., or Manong Junior to people he has worked with. For more than five decades until his retirement last year, Manong Junior remained the only scenic painter of the CCP.
After watching him create huge sets for different CCP productions, the mentees started shadowing this master. They would always see Manong Junior doing the scale models for the sets, and then bringing these miniatures into life-sized sets and sceneries.
At the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the people behind the scenes are just as important as the people performing on the stage.
The CCP pays homage to these unsung heroes through a series of mini-documentaries by filmmaker Joseph Mangat, titled Backstage Pass. Launched during Cinemalaya 19, the second installment features Manong Junior. The first installment featured the technical theater crew in the lights and flying sections.
The Backstage Pass series puts the spotlight on them; with more features planned covering the CCP film technicians, sound crew, and costume custodians, as well as venue booking and front-of-house operations. The series also gives viewers a glimpse of the lesser-known careers in cinema and theater work.